In the late hours of August 2nd, sixteen courageous Haitian senators, performing their constitutional duties, rejected Bernard P. Gousse, a former minister of justice under the illegal Boniface-Latortue regime (2004-06), as Michel Martelly’s choice for the post of Prime Minister. For those keeping scores, this is Parliament’s second rejection of the president’s choice for the post in three months. In response to his rejection by the Haitian Parliament, Gousse issued a sarcastic, professorial and moralistic statement that more or less gave the public an insight into his personality and validated the senators’ judgment. Unrepentant and unquestionably proud of his role as head henchmen for the Boniface-Latortue regime, he signed off his statement with “Gousse Pi Rèd”. In the idiom-laden Kréyol, it implies that he (Gousse) intends to stay put and torment his political opponents. Someone has apparently died and left Gousse in charge of the nation’s destiny, because what else can explain his supreme confidence in his ability to torment his enemies.
Indisputably, the president, who campaigned on a platform to end the politic of exclusion that characterized Haitian politics for two centuries, was being unreasonable with this choice. Considering Bernard Gousse’s discreditable past, (he zealously engaged in illegal persecutions of officials of the fallen Lavalas government during his tenure as minister of justice 2004-05), the blame lies at the feet of the president. Moreover, unlike Martelly’s first choice for the post, which was also rejected by the Haitian Parliament and could be blamed on inexperience or ineptitude, Gousse’s nomination was calculated and consistent with the president’s own political philosophy. A lawyer by profession, Gousse, like the president, passionately believes in neutralizing the Lavalas juggernaut by any measures, even if that entails the subversion of the democratic process. Both the president and his defeated nominee’s questionable actions during the violent overthrow of Democracy in 1991 and 2004 by the bloodthirsty Haitian military and the French-US invasion of Haiti, respectively, are indicative of their convergent political views in solving the matter.
One falsehood embraced by the media is the characterization of Michel Martelly and his cohorts as neo-Duvalierists. This notion is patently absurd and does not reflect the dominant political ideology in Haiti, which is basically self-preservation. Any association of Martelly and his cohorts with Duvalierism is inherently flawed and may be part of a protracted propaganda campaign meant to distract the Haitian people from the real issues. I only wish Bernard Gousse could explain his conception of “national dignity”, which he mentioned in his statement, when he was part of the group of impenitent collaborators that facilitated the occupation of Haiti on the bicentennial of its finest hour.
The truth is that Duvalierism, an offshoot of the Negritude movement that stood for the empowerment of Haiti’s black majority and eradication of colonialism, expired with the passing of Papa Doc in 1971. Though Martelly, Gousse and the current crop of Haitian politicians have benefited from Duvalierism, they remain steadfastly opposed to its political goals. They are essentially “escapees” from the pre-1957 political order (the mulatto elite dominance of every aspect of the Haitian state beginning with the US occupation 1915-34) who now see themselves as a cushion between stability and anarchy. They instinctively despise and fear the poor and mostly illiterate majority, which they perceived as reckless, ugly, smelly, primitive, barbaric and a latent threat to stability.
A prime example of this group’s temerity is its public rejection of Duvalierism while it emulates the method that contributed to its success: organized repression against those it perceives to be enemies of the current order. An unabashed supporter of the 1991 bloody military coup that overthrew the first democratically-elected president of Haiti (Jean-Bertrand Aristide), Martelly is, like his defeated nominee, a man committed to rolling back the minor gains made by the masses since the fall of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in 1986. His stated intention to bring back the now-defunct Haitian Armed Forces, the once reliable enforcer of the status quo, is indicative of his reactionary streak and simplistic view of the situation. In order not to tarnish the memory of the valiant men who have honorably served the defunct-F.A.d’H, Martelly’s Army, if it ever see the light of the day, should be appropriately named “Niggers with Guns”, a dangerous concoction under any definitions that will validate its sinister purpose.
Because party politics in Haiti cannot be defined in ideological terms, the political banner under which Michel Martelly was elected, Répons Péyzan (Peasants’ Response), is as absurd as it is inappropriate. Nothing connects the president to the Haitian peasantry nor could he conceivably formulate a practical response to their plight. Supporters of the president see the rejection as a dangerous game of brinkmanship by Haitian legislators unconcerned with the plight of their countrymen, but others disagree. Had Gousse been confirmed as prime minister, the notion of impunity, which the president has vowed to eliminate, will be institutionalized, as the defeated nominee ought to be prosecuted for depriving legions of Haitians of their civil rights during his tenure as minister of justice. Bernard Gousse’s vindictiveness toward his political adversaries, exemplified by his stinging response to his rejection by Parliament, provides an insight into the man’s twisted psyche. In rejecting Bernard Gousse for the post of prime minister, the senators no doubt saved the nation from a new round of political persecutions; history will likely concur.
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